Fish is a standard feature on the Friday dinner table when you grow up in Ireland. And probably many other countries too.
Fish and chips were the treat dinner. My mum made the best fish and chips. She used whiting, unwittingly championing sustainability way back in the day. It was light, sweet and delicate and when dipped in a simple batter, it came out of the fryer crispy and light.
Sometimes we had potted herring and boiled potatoes dobbed with a wedge of butter. Potted herring is a traditional Northern Irish dish, made with Ardglass herring. Herring is rolled up like a rollmop, placed in a baking dish, anointed in pickling brine and cooked in the oven for 30 minutes.
If this was placed on the table for me today, I would be in heaven. Butter melting over good organic potatoes, sprinkled with a shower of chopped dill along with the slightly vinegary herring is a great combination. My childhood taste buds, however, just couldn’t deal with the texture of the fish and the heady vinegar. I could nibble a bit around the edges and then scrape it off my plate onto one of my siblings to finish. I’ve come a long gastronomic way since those days!
I usually buy smoked mackerel and flake it into salads. Finding fresh mackerel is a treat and in this throw together meal, I have subconsciously brought together a few of those childhood Friday flavours in a naughty but very tasty nod to the seventies. Garlicy sautéed potatoes could easily be swapped out for boiled salad potatoes drizzled with olive oil.
This is a recipe for one portion, scale up for more.
1 fillet of mackerel
A handful of small potatoes, par boiled and sautéed with garlic
A handful of mixed lettuce leaves.
2 small beetroot, sliced thinly
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp dark sugar
A grind of salt
1tbsp chopped dill
Mix the vinegar, salt and sugar together in a bowl with the dill. Add the sliced beetroot and allow to marinade until you are ready to plate up.
Heat the oil in a pan and place the mackerel fillet, skin side down and cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat. The skin should become crispy. Turn and cook for 1 minute on the other side until just cooked through.
Place the mixed leaves on the plate and add the beetroot slices. Drizzle with some olive oil. Place a few sautéed potatoes and top with the mackerel skin side up.